In her new book, The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide, the 43-year-old actress presents advice for aspiring actors and reflects on the gig that launched her career: securing the role of Pam in The Office. As fans of the nine-season show know, it was Pam’s connection with her coworker, Jim, played by Krasinski, that became one of the most beloved aspects of the comedy series. According to the book, out Tuesday, Fischer knew she and Krasinski, 38, were meant for the roles from the beginning.
“[John Krasinski] wasn’t just the best Jim — he was Jim,” Fischer writes of the days before the actors were selected. “I remember the day we met. As I was being shown to the actor’s holding room, he was just being called in to read with another potential Pam… As he passed by, he introduced himself, and we shook hands. It was if lightning struck through the center of the room.”
Krasinski felt the connection, too.
“John and I were walking out of an audition scene, and he suddenly turned to me and whispered, ‘You’re my favorite Pam. I hope you get this job,'” Fischer writes. “It was exactly as sweet and cute and supportive as anything Jim would say to Pam. I smiled really big and said, ‘I’m so glad you said that because you’re my favorite Jim and I don’t think anyone could do it except for you.'”
When she got the role, she was ecstatic to learn that Krasinski was playing Jim. She writes, “I told them I couldn’t do Pam without him.”
Fischer and the rest of the cast didn’t expect the show to be as successful as it was, and they were all grateful for the opportunity. By the time she landed the role, she’d been struggling to support herself as an actress for eight years, and everyone else also “needed a break.”
Two seasons after much flirtation, it was time for Jim and Pam’s first kiss. Plenty of planning went into the kiss beforehand, because “everyone on the show wanted to get it just right,” Fischer explains. It also happened to be her first on-camera kiss.
Director Ken Kwapis told her to start the scene after he walked away — he didn’t want to break the moment by calling “action.”
“When he walked away, I felt completely transported into a new reality. I was Pam, I was talking with my mother, and my heart was breaking,” writes Fischer. “I spoke into the phone, telling her I was in love with Jim, but I couldn’t confess my feelings to him. Suddenly, Jim walked in the door. I turned and saw him and my heart felt like it might burst out of my chest. I wanted so much to tell him how I felt, but before I could, he kissed me. It was perfect.”
According to The Actor’s Life, Fischer, Krasinski, and the rest of the crew knew “we’d just filmed one of the best first kisses on television.”
“There’s a real part of me that is Pam and a real part of him that is Jim, and those parts of us were genuinely in love with one another,” she told a caller. “But in real life, we aren’t totally Pam and totally Jim, so in real life, we’re not the perfect match.”
But there’s no denying their on-screen connection.
“He was my partner,” Fischer said on the show. “We will always be close because of it.”
The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide is on sale now.